Researchers Study Excessive Worrying by Adolescents

May 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A pilot research project at the University of Cincinnati is investigating excessive worrying which interferes with daily functioning, also known as generalized anxiety disorder, in adolescents ages 12-17.

A little worrying is normal at the end of the school year, when final exams stand between students and summer vacation.

Many students, however, worry constantly—over not only tests but also numerous other issues, large and small. And it’s at that point that parents should consider getting help, medical experts agree.

A pilot research project at the University of Cincinnati (UC) is investigating excessive worrying which interferes with daily functioning, also known as (GAD), in ages 12-17. New enrollees are being accepted, with all inquiries confidential.

"These are kids that generally just worry about everything,” says Jeffrey Strawn, MD, a clinical fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry and one of six recipients nationwide of an American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) Pilot Research Award which supports the study. "This just subsumes every area of life.”

It’s perfectly normal to worry about a test, Strawn points out. But the excessive worrier also worries about whether the alarm clock will work that morning, finding the right room for the test and friends’ perceptions of him or her, along with more serious issues such as contracting a life-threatening illness or being involved in a serious on the way to school.

"Adolescents with this kind of anxiety tend not to get treatment for it, even though help is available,” adds Strawn. "If they come to a doctor, it’s often because of associated symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches.”

In addition to excessive worrying, Strawn says, children with GAD often constantly seek reassurance from parents, although "any decrease in anxiety the child would get from that reassurance is often very short-lived,” he says, "and then the child would continue to seek more and more reassurance, while continuing to worry.”

Using scans, researchers will be looking at specific areas and connections in the front of the brain that govern emotional responses which appear to be exaggerated in anxiety disorders. Using the brain scan, researchers will also study chemicals in one particular region of the brain that have been shown to inhibit those emotional responses.

"We want to explore the functional interrelationships among these different parts of the brain,” says Strawn.

Interested parents should call (513) 558-4112. Compensation for time and travel is available.

Explore further: High dietary salt may worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Childhood anxiety disorders can and should be treated

Dec 24, 2008

Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents should be recognized and treated to prevent educational underachievement and adult substance abuse, anxiety disorders and depression, says a nationally recognized child psychiatrist ...

Recommended for you

High dietary salt may worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms

7 hours ago

High dietary salt intake may worsen multiple sclerosis symptoms and boost the risk of further neurological deterioration, indicates a small observational study published online in the Journal of Neurology, Ne ...

Inside the teenage brain: New studies explain risky behavior

15 hours ago

It's common knowledge that teenage boys seem predisposed to risky behaviors. Now, a series of new studies is shedding light on specific brain mechanisms that help to explain what might be going on inside juvenile male brains.

Conflicts with teachers are risk factor for school shootings

18 hours ago

As part of the TARGET project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, researchers at Freie Universität Berlin conducted a systematic literature search of all the available studies dealing with school ...

User comments : 0